Measuring the Half-Life of Data

Blog Administrator | Address Quality, Data Cleansing, Data Quality | , ,


By Bud Walker

Data, like any radioactive material, has a half-life. That’s the time it takes for half of the contact information in your database to go bad. We’ve concluded that the average “half-life of data” is 45.4 months, or three years and 9 months.

In the U.S. annually we have a population of 316 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.


Marriages = 2.3 million

Divorces = 1.2 million

Births = 4.3 million

Deaths = 2.5 million

Moves = 47 million

Total Changes per year = 57.3

Total Changes per month = 4.8

The half-life formula is:

t1/2 = (t ln 1/2)/(ln mf / mi)

t1/2 = ln (1/2)/ln((316-4.8)/316) = 45.4 months or …

Therefore after 3 years and 9 months half the records in a customer’s database are incorrect.

The results highlight the importance of data quality, and why you should continuously clean and update your contact data to ensure its accuracy. Good quality data will help your organization make better business decisions and position it for growth.